Would You Let Your Husband Breastfeed?

Suzanne Murray
31

 

men and breastfeeding

photo by mamichan

Breastfeeding was tough at first. It hurt. Sometimes a lot. I don't care what the "experts" tell you, pain doesn't mean you're "doing it wrong" or the baby's "latch is bad." In fact, three different experts told me my daughter's latch was great. It still hurt. I was sore, chapped, bloody, and blistery. I honestly think it just took a little time for my body to get used to having a baby on my breast. Now, the actual breastfeeding part is a breeze, but it's tough in other ways. It means less sleep and it means I always have to be with my daughter (or at least gone for no longer than a few hours). As much as I love her, every now and again I'd like a little break. If only my husband could breastfeed. Guess what? He can.

All men can breastfeed because they have the two things necessary to lactation: mammary glands (which produce milk) and pituitary glands.

According to Mental Floss, the doctors and authors of an 1896 book, Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, recount several incidences of men breastfeeding their children. In one case, a sailor put his son to his breast to quiet him and started producing milk. In another, a South American peasant breastfed his son during his wife’s illness; and finally, a Chippewa man put his infant to his breast after the death of his wife and produced enough milk to rear him.

In 2002, a Sri Lankan man had to care for his 18-month-old daughter when his wife died. The child refused powdered milk, so her dad tried something else. "Unable to see her cry, I offered my breast," he told a Sri Lankan newspaper. "That’s when I discovered I could breastfeed."

In order for a man to breastfeed, the mammary glands have to be activated. In pregnant women, this happens when the pituitary gland releases the hormone prolactin, which prepares the breasts to produce milk. Men do produce prolactin (it's released after orgasms), but they don't produce enough to breastfeed. Yet, under the right circumstances (psychological and emotional), the brain can demand that the body produce more of the hormone. This is why some moms who adopt are able to nurse.

So it is possible (thanks to Mental Floss for all the info). Still, I don't really want my husband to be able to breastfeed. In the big scheme of things, I'm doing it for such a short time in my daughter's life, I want her all to myself. I know the day will come when I'll look back wistfully on all these sleepless nights.

Do you wish your baby's father could breastfeed?

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